Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Return to Šumava

Today I returned to Šumava, where I had remarkably fine fishing two weeks ago. The river was a tad higher than last time, but still at level comfortably allowing for dry fly fishing.

The day was clear and sunny with no wind, but up here in the mountains (altitude of some 750 meters) the season had already progressed and parts of the river were already frozen over when I arrived.

In 1930's, when war with Nazi Germany was considered imminent, Czechoslovakia built a defense line on the Vltava. To this day the river is lined with concrete bunkers, now overgrown by forest.

The going was tougher than when I visited here two weeks ago. Instead of the solid hatch of Baetis mayflies I encoundered in mid October there was much thinner hatch of smallish stoneflies. The stoneflies were not numerous enough to keep the grayling rising consistently and the bright sunshine made them easily spooked. Accurate presentation was therefore required, as I could not afford many misses.

Still I was able to connect to a few fish of decent size. They were remarkable for their variance in color, from very light ones to some almost completely dark.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fine Grayling Dries

Many consider fishing for Grayling on dry flies to be the pinnacle of the Art of Angling. It requires careful prospecting and river knowledge, as Grayling rises are so gentle they are easy to miss if you don't know where to look at and what to look for. It requires first class presentation, as the Grayling will not tolerate any drag at all.

But most of all it requires finery - finery both of approach but also in tackle. Fine lines, fine rods (my favorite is a #4 weight Gary Marshall bamboo), gossamer tippets and delicate flies. Here are a couple size 20 Eagle Owl flies that have proved most satisfactory this Grayling season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Grayling

Late last week a cold front arrived to the Czech Republic. Relatively speaking warm and sunny days with clear skies were replaced by cold, mist and light drizzle - in other words prime grayling weather. With a group of like minded individuals I headed south to the German borders, where some of the best grayling fishing in the Czech lands can be had on the Vltava river.

From the look of the countryside it was obvious that the summer was a distant memory by now and winter will be soon making itself felt. The river was about 6°C cold and gin clear, with the water levels having only recently receded from rains.

The river seemed still on the surface, although some sport could be had by short nymphing - this was however not the reason why we came to the place. Shortly after noon a trickle of smallish olive duns started to float down the river, with Mr. Grayling soon taking notice of them - the dry fly time had finally arrived!

The grayling proved to be very finicky eaters, and could be tempted only on the very smallest imitations - #18 and #20 mayflies with body of heron or Eagle Owl feather and CDC wing. In addition our quarry were extremely sensitive to drag. We understood that perfectly, but watching for drag of a size 20 fly put some strain on our eyes - luckily for us the grayling were not spooky and allowed us to cast from quite short distance.

On early Sunday afternoon I discovered this place - a dry fly fisherman wet dream. The half sunk log served as a barrier of sorts, funneling all flotsam from half a river width to single stream, no more than 20 centimeters wide. In this bubble lane, clearly visible on my photograph, a couple of sizable grayling were rising nonchalantly.

The fish were not spooky and allowed me to get close and observe. They were not stupid either though, and firmly refused any fly that shoved even slightly unnatural drift. Any instance of drag was met by a swift and utter refusal of my imitation. Getting the drift correct in all the conflicting currents was a tough nut that I spent almost an hour trying to crack. At the end I finally succeeded and was rewarded by a lovely colored grayling, my biggest for the whole trip.

The fly that made my success possible was size 20 Výrovka fly, made from the herl of the Eagle Owl feather.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anodized Pink Beadhead

It is well known that pink beadheads have strange appeal to grayling. I have been using beads painted pink for some time with great success. They seemed to have only one drawback: after being fished hard in shallow stream the paint peeled off.

I have acquired some beads with anodized pink, and I am looking forward to see if they perform as well as the painted ones while lasting longer.

The tie:
#12 Hanák 260BL hook (shortened shank, has the length of a #14 hook)
2.8 mm beadhead anodized Pink
tan UNI 8/0 thread
red rooster hackle fibres for tail
scruffy dubbing from hare's back
UNI #16 gold tinsel